History of Copper Cliff Dairy


Courtesy of Henry, John and the late Edward Nelson and Enterprising Finns , a Collection of Finnish Business stories from Greater Sudbury 1900-2013. Finnish Canadian Historical Society of Sudbury. ISBN 978-0-9917663-0-7 page 154)


Copper Cliff Dairy was founded in 1927 by four Finnish immigrant families from Waters Township. Elias Kallio; Henrik Nelson (Pynttäri); John Harju and John Salo families. Following is a short biography of each of them.

Elias Kallio — Born in Lapua, Finland in I864, wife Kaisa (Skold), purchased a farm around 1910 (north of present Noront Steel, which is entirely covered by INCO tailings today). Delivered milk to Copper Cliff and Creighton Mine. Son Ernest J Kallio continued milk delivery to consumers until the dairy was founded. His son, Einar, nephew Emil and niece, Helga (Rlstimaki) (Flynn) were later involved in the dairy operations on Ernest's death in 1951. All have since passed away. The dairy was sold to Agropur, based in Quebec and was closed on Jan. 29, 2011.  

Henrik Nelson — Born, Alavus, Finland In 1873; and his wife, Amalia (Skold), sister of Kaisa; purchased a farm on the north shore of Kelly Lake in I908. Farmhouse, barns and shed were completed in I916. Milk was sold in personalized bottles directly, house to house in Copper Cliff by son John Edward beginning at age 13.

When the dairy was founded In I927, he became the first manager. He remained as manager until 1939 when he took over farm operations from his parents on their retirement.

John Harju — Born, Lapua, Finland in 1873, purchased a farm; of 300 acres on which the Iron Ore Recovery Plant and Nickel Refinery site are located. Son William (Bill) delivered milk to Copper Cliff in monogrammed bottles inscribed, “Copper Cliff Dairy” along with "John Harju“ included on the logo. This name eventually became the name of the dairy. The farm was operated by Bill until the late 1940s when it was sold to INCO.


John Salo — (Courtesy of Stanley E. Salo)

Juho (Johan/John) Tanelinpoika Salo was born April 7, 1871 on the Salo Torppa, on the Autio N:9 farm, in Kauhava Parish, Finland. 

On May 6, 1899 Juho left the port of Hango aboard the Arcturus to travel to Copper Cliff, Ont. Canada. His wife Sanna in 1900 acquired a passport for her and her two sons and on April 28, 1900 Sanna, Kalle, and Eino emigrated to join Juho in Copper Cliff.

The family lived in Copper Cliff, McKim Township, Nipissing District, Ontario until 1908. In the meantime Juho bought land in Waters Township most likely from Heikki (Henry) Makinen in 1905 to build a farm. 

In 1908 the family moved to the Salo farm in Waters Township. It had been set up as a milk farm. Juho started milk delivery in Copper Cliff in 1910 with plain bottles and monogrammed caps.  His son Tauno later took over farm operations until the 1940s. His daughter Senja married Fabian Mäkelä who had a dairy operation where North Industrial Park in Walden is today.

Edwin (Ed) Salo worked at Juho Salo Farm with Tauno. Married in 1934 to Irene Salo (Aho). Ed had bought the Holmes property which had been divided in half, (southern portion) bordering on the CP rail tracks & Hwy 17. In 1946 the Dairy farm was sold to International Nickel Co.

The Salos then purchased an island and mainland property on Bell Lake, Goschen Township, 28 air miles SW of Sudbury. At that time canoe trips were going through Three Mile Lake & Bell Lake, later combined into one "Bell Lake". A lot of the canoe people wanted to stay on the island & have accommodation, meals and sauna. Irene & Ed Salo then realized " I guess we're in the tourist business", and Blue Mountain Lodge was born.

Click here to view images of the Salo Farm and Bell Lake - Gallery 

These farm operations were successful because milk was sold in bottles directly to the customer at retail prices. However in the mid 1920s the government enacted laws for the mandatory pasteurization of milk. French chemist Louis Pasteur invented the process of pasteurization in the 1860s, which uses heat by boiling to kill bacteria in liquids such as raw milk. Epidemics of typhoid fever and TB had claimed thousands of lives in the United States and Canada in me early 20th Century. The causes were eventually linked to contaminated raw milk from unsanitary dairy farms. Mandatory pasteurization was required of a dairy operation

These four milk producers joined forces and founded the “Copper Cliff Dairy", a name already being used by the Harju family.